Artists bring comfort and joy


By Marilyn Delk

When Anna Bier Gallery Director CeCelia Rice learned that Darke County Center for the Arts would not be presenting a holiday performance in Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall this year, she decided that an art exhibit could meaningfully contribute to the holiday spirit in our community. This decision was met by a positive response from 18 artists, whose festive work now adorns the Gallery walls; Anna Bier Gallery’s First Annual Holiday Show opened on Nov. 28, and will continue through Jan. 30. Although not all of the work is related to the season, comfort and joy can definitely be inspired by a visit to the Gallery.

As one enters the exhibit, the eye is instantly drawn to “Santa Claus,” the lush Sandy Cable-Barringer painting which earned Best of Show; Sandy expertly used the interplay of light and shadow as well as masterful color and form to bring Santa to vibrant life. Nearby, a charming holiday-themed mixed-media piece by Paula Huntington utilizes a wide variety of jewelry pins in a golden frame to create a glittering Christmas tree that generates a true sense of rich delight. Julie McMiller, now a resident of Troy but a 1976 graduate of Greenville High School, captured her happy childhood memory of sledding “Down Parkway Drive” with a three-dimensional papier mache sculpture that resoundingly won a People’s Choice Award based on the number of likes received on the Gallery’s Facebook page; however, in order to fully appreciate the painstaking skill required for its creation, this delightful piece deserves to be viewed in person.

Although two works submitted by Jean Selanders, “Sledding on the Slopes” and “Midwest Winter” are warm-hearted seasonal scenes, another season is evoked in her first-place-winning “Sunflower Haven;” striking full-blown sunflowers stand out on a background of rich blue to produce a warm memory of late summer/early fall. Earning second place in the same category is another lovely pastel featuring blossoms, “Mum’s the Word” by Carolyn Armstrong, in which artful shading of realistic colors brings chrysanthemums to vibrant life.

Although she’s only been painting for two years, Irma Heiser won a second place ribbon for “The Lady In the Window,” a work emanating an air of mystery as well as a sense of depth and dimension. Retired Navy veteran John Kiser worked on his first place winner “Pink Harbor” for three years before completing the stand-out piece depicting three rowboats he had frequently seen tied up to a dock in Sardinia while stationed in Italy; the vivid painting transports the viewer to a faraway yet familiar-seeming scene.

“King of the Coop” earned Marilyn Banks first place in mixed-media, with stunning textures adding engaging depth and detail to the fascinating portrait of a magnificent rooster; in another striking collage,“Three’s A Crowd,” Marilyn brings three scarlet cardinals to robust life against a warm winter background. Even though the representation of a fierce mammal is small in scale, Donald Pohlman’s first-place-winning “Bear Sculpture” generates a sense of fear and danger, the muscular power of the fish-eating golden bear amply evident in the animal’s realistically re-created limbs. Dr. Pohlman’s wife, Pamela, also entered a realistic sculpture in the show; her first-ever artistic effort, “The Fish,” was created when she accompanied her husband to an art workshop in Montana.

“Tabby Cat” by Kay Cress, a true-to-life depiction of a much less fierce animal than the Pohlman bear, reminded this viewer of cats I have known, the subject’s facial expression communicating the affectionate disdain cats seem to hold for their human companions. In another realistic depiction, “My New Friend” which shows an adorable toddler and an equally adorable horse getting to know each other, Kay generates a spirit of friendliness and good will, a spirit in keeping with any season.

These are but a few of the many appealing and interesting works currently on display at the Anna Bier Gallery located within St. Clair Memorial Hall; the Gallery is open Sundays from 12 noon till 2 p.m. but will be closed on Dec. 26. For more information or to make an appointment to view the show outside of regular Gallery hours, contact Ms. Rice at [email protected].

Marilyn Delk is the former executive director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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